Summer Shows to Watch: TNT's 'Hawthorne'

Promising Sign: Second Episode Holds 98% of Audience

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The summer has become cable's launchpad for new series, and this year is no exception, with some of the networks' biggest launches ever rolling out in the coming weeks. MediaWorks' Summer Shows to Watch continues this week with TNT's "Hawthorne," which premiered June 16.
Jada Pinkett Smith is Christina Hawthorne in TNT's 'Hawthorne.'
Jada Pinkett Smith is Christina Hawthorne in TNT's 'Hawthorne.' Credit: TNT

Summer Show to Watch: TNT's "Hawthorne"

When It's Live: Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST

The Cast: Jada Pinkett Smith (Christina Hawthorne), Michael Vartan (Dr. Tom Wakefield), Suleka Mathew (Bobbie Jackson), David Julian Hirsh (Ray Stein), Christina Moore (Candy Sullivan), Hannah Hodson (Camille, Hawthorne's daughter), Joanna Cassidy (Amanda, Hawthorne's mother-in-law).

Broadcast Time-Slot Competitors: ABC's "Better off Ted" and "Scrubs," CBS's "The Mentalist," NBC's "America's Got Talent," Fox's "Mental"

The Premise: In her first TV series in more than a decade, Jada Pinkett Smith plays Christina Hawthorne, a chief nursing officer who heads a group of dedicated nurses at Richmond Trinity Hospital in Richmond, Va. Hawthorne is the kind of nurse often portrayed in broadcast dramas as the kind who will do everything in her power to help her patients, even if detracts from her personal life, in which she's a recently widowed single parent. Familiar TV faces Michael Vartan ("Alias," "Big Shots") and Joanna Cassidy ("Six Feet Under," "Boston Legal") co-star.

Marketing Highlights: "Hawthorne" is the first of three new series launching during TNT's ambitious summer season of seven original series, which kicked off earlier this month with the return of "The Closer" and "Raising the Bar" on Mondays, followed by the Tuesday return of "Saving Grace" and the debuts of "Hawthorne" and Mark Burnett reality series "Wedding Day." While ads spotlighting Ms. Pinkett Smith are featured as part of the network's overall summer marketing push, the show also got some dedicated outreach to the nursing community and a partnership with Curves health club for the Susan G. Komen Foundation's Race for the Cure. Other marketing highlights include a first-ever ad buy in TV Guide that made TNT the top network in the magazine's programming grid, with sponsored tune-in messages for "Hawthorne," and a daylong takeover on Facebook, where TNT shows were the only ads served to female Facebook users for the entire day.

Jeff Gregor, Turner Broadcasting's chief marketing officer, said Ms. Pinkett Smith's crossover appeal has helped the network reach the African-American community through sponsorships of key events such as the Essence Music Festival and the American Black Film Festival and community screenings among preachers' wives in megachurch markets.

Ad Tie-Ins: Lyrica,, Pine-Sol and Wells Fargo are all sponsors of "Hawthorne." Lyrica sponsored a sneak peek of "Hawthorne" the Friday before the premiere episode, within an episode of "Bones.", Pine-Sol and Wells Fargo sponsor weekly tune-ins and in-show billboards airing throughout the season.

The Ratings Outlook: "Hawthorne" premiered June 16 to 3.7 million viewers, 1.6 million of whom were adults 25 to 54, outperforming its lead-in, "Saving Grace," and ranking as the top cable series of the night.

The second episode on June 23 held 98% of its premiere audience and posted 5% gains among adults 25 to 54. The series also ranked as the top telecast in broadcast and cable in African-American households, viewers and adults 25 to 54. The show outperformed the debut of TNT's now-canceled "Trust Me" but came up short of the premieres of "Raising the Bar" and "Leverage." But the numbers are strong enough for Mr. Gregor to say, "We're delivering on a promise we made a year ago to have three nights of programming this summer, and we're off to a great start on Monday and Tuesday. We are the home of drama."

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